27 Buffalo Soldiers on Bicycles?

Thanks to Frank and Sherry, who we would meet later, we learned of how the Buffalo Soldiers were issued Bicycles and rode their Iron Horses to Montana and back as a test.

25th Infantry Buffalo Soldiers

Bicycle Corp at Fort Missoula in 1897

25th Infantry black bicycle corps at Fort Missoula in formation beside their bicycles [unidentifed collection Mansfield Library]
Photo courtesy of UM Mansfield Library, unidentified collection. [uncropped enlargement]

The 25th Infantry U.S. Army Bicycle Corps stationed at Fort Missoula, Montana set out across the country on their bicycles in 1896-7. Lt. James A. Moss led the company of black soldiers on several obstacle intensive test runs of the iron two-wheeled alternative to horses for transportation. Their greatest trip covered 1900 miles to St. Louis, Missouri, returning to Missoula by train. The 25th Infantry gained fame and was nicknamed the Buffalo Soldiers.

25th Infantry at Yellowstone in 1896

25th Infantry black bicycle corps at Yellowstone
Photo by Frank Jay Haynes. [uncropped enlargement]

In 1896 the 25th Infantry rode, walked, and carried their bicycles cross country to Yellowstone Park, 500 miles from their Fort Missoula base. They pose above on Minerva Terrace at the town of Mammoth Hot Springs in a photograph taken and hand colored by Yellowstone’s official freelance photographer F. Jay Haynes (1853-1921). Note that the troops mounted from the left side of the bike, according to the custom for mounting a horse.

Article Published by…The Northern Rockies Heritage Center

Further Resources on the Buffalo Soldiers

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